The summer has come to an end. The kids are back in school. You’re beginning to eye those sweaters tucked back in your closet. The transition from summer’s heat to the briskness of autumn also signals the time to do some basic upkeep on your house. From top to bottom, inside and outside, just follow this fall home maintenance checklist to keep your home safe, warm, and comfortable for the chilly months ahead.
Roof, Attic, and Chimney
- Inspect your roof’s flashing, and also look for cracks, curling, damaged, or missing shingles.
- Clean your gutters of all the debris that has built up there. If your gutters can’t drain the water flow easily, you might end up with leakage in your basement or damage to the exterior walls (wood rot and pest infestation) and foundation.
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before you start using your fireplace for the season, to make sure it can vent properly and that harmful creosote has been removed, a major cause of chimney fires.
- Check that all vents are clear of insulation, tree branches, or debris. Blocked vents could lead to ice dams on your roof.
Doors and Windows
- Replace screens with storm windows and doors.
- Add weather stripping or caulking to eliminate drafts that spike your heating costs.
- Inspects all doors and windows and make any repairs that could leak your warm outside and let the cold air in.
- Have your furnace or gas heater inspected before the heating season kicks in. Don’t wait until you are relying on this heat source to fend off problems and prevent toxins from escaping into your home.
- Check your wood stove for cracks or rust in the main compartment and legs, and inspect the stovepipe for any signs of excess wear, like corrosion, holes, or loose joints.
- Have your electric company do an energy audit to pinpoint where additional insulation might save you money.
- Drain your water heater to get rid of the sediment that builds up in the holding tank. This simple step can increase the efficiency by 50%!
- Bring in the garden hoses to avoid having built-up water freeze and crack the pipes.
- Shut off the water supply valves to the outside faucets to prevent possible interior leaks.
- Drain the water from your irrigation system and remove any exposed sprinkler heads that could be damaged by snow cover or plows.
- Before you stash your mower for the winter, add gas stabilizer to protect the engine from gas that deteriorates when the mower isn’t in use.
- Prune plants and trees, particularly those that are close to the house. The branches should be no closer than three feet to avoid the risk of damage during heavy storms and high winds.
- Replace the batteries on your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
- Check the indicator gauge on your fire extinguishers (one for each floor) and give every member of the household a refresher on how to use it.
- Review your emergency escape plans. Install a rope ladder near each upper-floor bedroom. Make sure the emergency exits are clear of furniture, toys, or other items that block a safe escape.
It doesn’t take long to secure your home for the cold months ahead. From comfort to safety, follow this fall home maintenance checklist.